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Saturday March 27, 2010 in Books
James Hoffman, George Ryga’s biographer, provides a brilliant guide to the reader of this collection, with a compelling reappraisal of Ryga’s fiction as far ahead of its time. The three short novels included here— Hungry Hills, Ballad of a Stonepicker and Night Desk —draw from the same large canvas of rural, depression-era Alberta. They have similar stark prairie settings and a recognizable array of colourful, cantankerous homesteader and dirt farmer characters, all of whom take us in many pleasurable, disturbing and revealing directions, both historical and mythopoetic. This was a period of obstinate survival farming and boisterous, ethnically diverse community building, redolent with the more questionable aspects of colonial ‘settling’ and ‘breaking’ of the land, in a place that was never unsettled or unclaimed to begin with.
Told in a homey vernacular, each of these three tales evokes a time and place that is as ironically as it is emphatically post-colonial. Ryga offers the reader (and re-reader) characters with a rough-hewn energy for survival and self-determination, and finds in them the beginnings of an authentic prairie culture defined by the anti-colonial struggle that so powerfully marks his work.
ISBN 13: 9780889225015 | ISBN 10: 088922501X
7 W x 10 H x 1 D inches | 320 pages
$24.95 CAN / $19.95 US
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: FIC019000
QUOTES OF NOTE
…propelled by compassion and moral outrage, but also by a peculiar and personal awareness of the life and death of human cultures and the values they contain.
— Globe & Mail
About the ContributorsGeorge Ryga
In 1967, George Ryga soared to national fame with The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, which has since evolved into a modern classic. A self-proclaimed artist in resistance, Ryga takes the role of a fierce and fearless social commentator in most of his plays, and his work is renowned for its vivid and thrilling theatricality. George Ryga died of stomach cancer in Summerland, BC, in 1987 and will always be remembered and cherished as one of Canada’s most prolific and powerful writers. His memory was publicly honoured at the BC Book Prizes ceremony in 1993.James Hoffman
James Hoffman is a Professor of Theatre at the University College of the Cariboo, located in Kamloops, BC, and the editor of the scholarly journal Textual Studies in Canada. His research interests include Canadian theatre studies, post-colonial theory, and the history and culture of theatre in BC. A recent notable production was of Nootka Sound; or, Britain Prepar’d, an eighteenth-century work which Hoffman himself labels as “British Columbia’s first play.”
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.